Eco-Terrorist: Battle for Our Planet, directed by Peter Jay Brown, is a follow-up to documentary Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist, documenting the exploits of the environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Although it is extremely difficult to mess up an eco-doc, Brown has done just that, delivering one of the most dated and laughable documentaries to come out in a long time.
The film explores the methods of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they set out to thwart illegal whale poachers with their unique style of vigilante justice. The movie begins with the Sea Shepherds as a volunteer organization trying to scrape together resources and follows them as they gain notoriety, and with it, the money to do more things.
Brown, who started as a cameraman sent to capture images of the Sea Shepherds before ultimately joining their ranks and making this film’s predecessor, seems to have too much of a personal connection to the story for the movie to be effective. In many ways, the film comes across not as a documentary about the organization, but as a defense of their extreme methods and actions.
Ultimately, the movie’s intended message of people needing to act regarding environmental issues such as these is buried beneath an ineffective message about money. The whole film seems to be made with the longing for the time before the Sea Shepherds had access to financial resources. With this, Brown obviously wants to come across as enlightened and cool, but more often than not, he would be more accurately described as a grumpy hippie.
The movie is unable to develop anyone except for the leader of the Sea Shepherds, Captain Paul Watson, with any depth. However, Watson is presented in such a heroic light that the film becomes frustrating. Yes, Watson means well, but some of his decisions go too far, and this movie fails to acknowledge that. In fact, the film even brags about some of the outright unethical things that he does.
On a technical level, the movie feels like it came out twenty years ago. Much like any educational documentary released in that era, an overwhelming narration carries the story, explaining everything that happens with an excessive level of detail that gives no credit to the audience. Additionally, the cinematography is terrible, looking like it was shot on cameras that have long been obsolete.
There are also some music choices in the film that are absolutely inexplicable. Most of the score is comprised of a jingoistic tune that glorifies the actions of the subjects as if they were a military force fighting for the people. It gets even worse, though, when the movie switches to bright and uplifting music akin to that which would be heard on a gameshow right as poachers begin to brutally slaughter seals. These music cues are so misjudged that they are unintentionally hilarious.
Well-meaning but woefully misguided, Eco-Terrorist: Battle for Our Planet is one of the worst documentaries of the year. Belonging up there with the works of Dinesh D’Souza, this is one of the few so-bad-it’s-funny documentaries that will likely gain notoriety for its numerous bad decisions.
Eco-Terrorist: Battle for Our Planet hits DVD and VOD on October 1.